Literature The Best Quotes About Literature  

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103 votes 27 voters 7k views 102 items

List Rules Must be a famous or well-known quote. Vote for the literature sayings that strongly resonate with you, and downvote any you didn't like.

A list of the best literature quotes and sayings, including the names of each speaker or author when available. This list is sorted by popularity, so only the most famous literature quotes are at the top. The authors of these historic literature quotes are displayed next to each quote, so if you see one you like be sure to check out other inspirational literature quotes from that same writer.

This list answers the questions, "What are the best quotes about literature?" and "What are inspirational literature quotes?"

This list includes notable literature quotes by various authors, writers, playwrights, speakers, politicians, athletes, poets, and more. Vote on your favorites so that the greatest literature quotes rise to the top, as the order of the list changes dynamically based on votes. Don't let your favorite literature sayings get to the bottom of the list.
list ordered by

1
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The self-styled intellectual who is impotent with pen and ink hungers to write history with sword and blood. Eric Hoffer

2
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Leisure without literature is death and burial alive. Seneca the Younger

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For whatever is truly wondrous and fearful in man, never yet was put into words or books. Herman Melville

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The decline in literature indicates a decline in the nation. The two keep pace in their downward tendency. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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The difference between literature and journalism is that journalism is unreadable and literature is not read. Oscar Wilde

6
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The only privilege literature deserves -- and this privilege it requires in order to exist -- is the privilege of being in the arena of discourse, the place where the struggle of our languages can be acted out. Salman Rushdie

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How has the human spirit ever survived the terrific literature with which it has had to contend? Wallace Stevens

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michaelj72 added A good book is an event in my life. - Stendhal

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Writing is the only profession where no one considers you ridiculous if you earn no money. Jules Renard

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The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it. Václav Havel

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Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree. Ezra Pound

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Whoever has the luck to be born a character can laugh even at death. Because a character will never die! A man will die, a writer, the instrument of creation: but what he has created will never die! Luigi Pirandello

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Literature is the expression of a feeling of deprivation, a recourse against a sense of something missing. But the contrary is also true: language is what makes us human. It is a recourse against the meaningless noise and silence of nature and history. Octavio Paz

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"The literary artist lends verbal depth to the visual. The visual artist provides visible articulation for the literary." Aberjhani

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The existence of good bad literature --the fact that one can be amused or excited or even moved by a book that one's intellect simply refuses to take seriously --is a reminder that art is not the same thing as cerebration. George Orwell

16
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Literature is where I go to explore the highest and lowest places in human society and in the human spirit, where I hope to find not absolute truth but the truth of the tale, of the imagination and of the heart. Salman Rushdie

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In literature the ambition of the novice is to acquire the literary language: the struggle of the adept is to get rid of it. George Bernard Shaw

18
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Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourse of my book-friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. Helen Keller

19
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If literature isn't everything, it's not worth a single hour of someone's trouble. Jean-Paul Sartre

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If a nation's literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays. Ezra Pound

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Literature is news that stays news. Ezra Pound

22
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Anybody can write a three-volume novel. It merely requires a complete ignorance of both life and literature. Oscar Wilde

23
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Literature always anticipates life. It does not copy it, but moulds it to its purpose. The nineteenth century, as we know it, is largely an invention of Balzac. Oscar Wilde

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A literary movement consists of five or six people who live in the same town and hate each other cordially. George Moore

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What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say, literature. Henry Miller

26
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That is a very good question. I don't know the answer. But can you tell me the name of a classical Greek shoemaker? Arthur Miller

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Literature could be said to be a sort of disciplined technique for arousing certain emotions. Iris Murdoch

28
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In literature, as in love, we are astonished at the choice made by other people. André Maurois

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Literature... is condemned (or privileged) to be forever the most rigorous and, consequently, the most reliable of terms in which man names and transforms himself. Paul de Man

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“The act of writing itself is much like the construction of a mirror made of words. Looking at certain illuminated corners of or cracks within the mirror, the author can see fragments of an objective reality that comprise the physical universe, social communities, political dynamics, and other facets of human existence. Looking in certain other corners of the same mirror, he or she may experience glimpses of a True Self sheltered deftly behind a mask of public proprieties.” Aberjhani

31
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michaelj72 added Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry. - Cassandra Clare

32
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"It’s a good thing that he [John Galsworthy] and those who answered his call in the twentieth century have given the rest of us tilling fields in the twenty-first century a 90-year head start." Aberjhani

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“When reading about what may be described as the lesser celebrated heroic figures of the Harlem Renaissance, we rarely get a definitive look at just how complicated and sometimes dangerous their everyday lives were. In fact, until the past ten years, many defined the period primarily by its well-known literary, musical, and artistic elements while overlooking the fact there was any political component to it at all.” Aberjhani

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“Aberjhani's writing blows the mind and frees the psyche of any rigid assumptions about ancestral heritage. Here, our collective experience is starkly rendered. The transparency of one culture overlays another, and another, to form the daguerreotype of possibilities that is homo sapiens, interacting, almost like the elements themselves, with the created world and modified only by context and its imperatives.”-- from Circles and Arcs Rosy Cole

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“In strong, yet accessible, imagery Aberjhani captures moments and events in life that are instantly recognizable by all of us. He is the kind of writer that makes all readers want to be writers.” --from 2000 Savannah Literary Journal

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“By striving so mightily to accomplish specific goals on behalf of one segment of humanity, she [Toni Morrison] went beyond them to create literary wonders capable of enriching the lives of not just her own people, but of all people.” Aberjhani

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“Sociologically, politically, psychologically, spiritually, it was never enough for him [James Baldwin] to categorize himself as one thing or the other: not just black, not just sexual, not just American, nor even just as a world-class literary artist. He embraced the whole of life the way the sun’s gravitational passion embraces everything from the smallest wandering comet to the largest looming planet. He both confronted and cultivated creative vision with a drive, passion, and brilliance that few have matched, and simply being able to watch his genius sparkle from one sentence to the next could generate both awe and revelation.” Aberjhani

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"Overall, my books represent a kind of shared communion and meditation with my fellow human beings… The books are also a part of what I call the great continuum of spiritual literary dialogue that I feel has been in progress since human beings first gave in to the urge to pray to their sense of something greater than themselves and interpreted certain signs or events or silences as responses to those prayers." Aberjhani

39
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Henry James seems most entirely in his element, doing that is to say what everything favors his doing, when it is a question of recollection. The mellow light which swims over the past, the beauty which suffuses even the commonest little figures of that Virginia Woolf

40
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A good essay must have this permanent quality about it; it must draw its curtain round us, but it must be a curtain that shuts us in not out. Virginia Woolf

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I have never known a novel that was good enough to be good in spite of its being adapted to the author's political views. Edith Wharton

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Any historian of the literature of the modern age will take virtually for granted the adversary intention, the actually subversive intention, that characterizes modern writing -- he will perceive its clear purpose of detaching the reader from the habits of thought and feeling that the larger culture imposes, of giving him a ground and a vantage point from which to judge and condemn, and perhaps revise, the culture that produces him. Lionel Trilling

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By and large the literature of a democracy will never exhibit the order, regularity, skill, and art characteristic of aristocratic literature; formal qualities will be neglected or actually despised. The style will often be strange, incorrect, overburdened, and loose, and almost always strong and bold. Writers will be more anxious to work quickly than to perfect details. Short works will be commoner than long books, wit than erudition, imagination than depth. There will be a rude and untutored vigor of thought with great variety and singular fecundity. Authors will strive to astonish more than to please, and to stir passions rather than to charm taste. Alexis de Tocqueville

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michaelj72 added That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong. - F. Scott Fitzgerald

45
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With a pen in my hand I have successfully stormed bulwarks from which others armed with sword and excommunication have been repulsed. Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

46
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Speak of the moderns without contempt, and of the ancients without idolatry.

47
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Now a writer can make himself a nice career while he is alive by espousing a political cause, working for it, making a profession of believing in it, and if it wins he will be very well placed. All politics is a matter of working hard without reward, or with a living wage for a time, in the hope of booty later. A man can be a Fascist or a Communist and if his outfit gets in he can get to be an ambassador or have a million copies of his books printed by the Government or any of the other rewards the boys dream about. Ernest Hemingway

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The greatest masterpiece in literature is only a dictionary out of order. Jean Cocteau

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All you can be sure about in a political-minded writer is that if his work should last you will have to skip the politics when you read it. Many of the so-called politically enlisted writers change their politics frequently . Perhaps it can be respected as a form of the pursuit of happiness. Ernest Hemingway

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All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since. Ernest Hemingway